A couple of years ago, I was invited to participate in the creation of an anthology dedicated to honoring U.S. military veterans who had served during wartime. I accepted that invitation and agreed to write the story of 98-year-old WWII veteran Charlie Henderson.
I couldn’t conduct the interviews with Mr. Henderson in person because it was the summer of 2020, the first year of Covid, and we were separated by a couple of hundred miles, so we arranged to talk on the phone. Charlie’s age hadn’t affected his hearing, and we spent several hours in conversation about his life before, during, and after the war.
Charlie wasn’t thrilled when he was drafted into the army in 1942. He came from a close family in Mississippi, and he hated to leave, but he answered the call and spent most of his service in Europe. He was assigned to the 449th Gasoline Supply Company, a dangerous situation since the Germans wanted to destroy all gasoline supply depots. Charlie talked openly about the fear he felt when he and his fellow soldiers heard the sound of buzz bombs overhead, but he was proud of the part he played in delivering gasoline to the Allied front lines during the Battle of the Bulge.
After we completed our interviews, I sent Charlie and his nephew, John, the first draft of my article. They made suggestions and corrections and we repeated the process until we were all satisfied with the results. I sent the final copy to them and to the editors of the Forever Young Veterans Anthology.
* * *
Charlie’s nephew called me about a year ago to tell me Charlie had passed away at the age of 99. John wanted me to know how grateful Charlie was to me for having written his story. He had even asked John to hand out copies of the article at his funeral.
I was humbled that Charlie was grateful to me while it is I who owe so much to him.
I wrote a story. He fought a war.
As Diane Hight writes about our veterans in the Introduction to the Forever Young Veterans Anthology, “… many returned home to suffer silently and bury the pain of combat and war.”
* * *
In this season of Thanksgiving, I’d like to offer my special thanks to all U.S. military veterans. The Forever Young Veterans Anthology was released on November 2, 2022.
I’ll be traveling on the day this post appears, but I’ll check in when I can. An early Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
TKZers: What are you thankful for? Do you owe a special thank you to any person or group?
Kay, you and Charlie gave each other precious gifts. Thank you for writing his story. I’m eager to read Forever Young.
I have too many blessings to count, thanks to my husband and dear friends who make my life rich beyond measure.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Too many blessings to count. True for me too.
Thanks to Mr. Henderson and all like him who have served. I’m so glad you were able to tell his story before he passed away.
As to what I’m thankful for–my Lord the Creator of heaven and earth, family, friends, being able to see the mountains every day and so, so, much more.
I wish save travels to all TKZers who are on the road this week. May you find this Thanksgiving holiday a day to truly give thanks and to rest & recharge–and gather more story ideas! 😎
There is so much to be thankful for. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I’m thankful to all the men and women who have made this country free today. Some gave their all on the battlefield and others came home and relived the war over and over. Not one person who served in war came home the same as they left.
I’m also thankful that the greatest Creator gave me the desire and talent to crearte stories that others want to read.
Happy Thanksgiving to all at TKZ! Safe travels, Kay and everyone else traveling.
Patricia, You are so right. We are the recipients of the gift of freedom given by men and women who served.
Have a great Thanksgiving.
Thanks for sharing that story, Kay. That is quite a story of legacy that you helped Charlie hand down to his friends and family. Charlie’s legacy was his service which helped change the world, and which gave us all a life to be thankful for.
I am also thankful for family. I spent yesterday with three granddaughters. They make worthwhile all the time and effort I put into writing books for them.
Happy Thanksgiving, and Safe Travels, Kay!
Good evening, Steve.
I thought about you when I was writing this post. Your writing books for your grandchildren is a unique gift that will serve them well in life. Good for you!
Happy Thanksgiving, Kay. I am thankful for your story, as well as the contributions of those who have commented before me. Most of all, I am thankful for another day. Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, and today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.
Every day is a gift. That’s for sure.
Happy Thanksgiving, Joe.
I’m thankful I’m living in a wonderful home in a wonderful location. I’m thankful for a family free of drama, so our get-togethers are joyful. I’ll have more on my post Wednesday.
Family get-togethers are the best. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, Terry.
Such a heart-warming story, Kay. I’m thankful for this post and for Mr. Henderson’s service and millions of others who fought so that we might be free. I’m thankful for this wonderful community, for the opportunity I had to serve the library for all those years, and for the opportunity to write and publish. And like Joe, I’m simply thankful to be here.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Safe travels.
So much to be thankful for. I’ve heard it said that we should raise 100 prayers of thanksgiving each day. Good idea.
Have a great Thanksgiving.
Thanks, Kay! What a privilege it was for you to write that story.
I, too, am thankful to live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. I have many veterans in my circle of family and friends and it’s wonderful to listen to them tell their stories.
I thank God for my family, for a childhood of safety and adventure, and to live in a quiet place surrounded by farmland and nature.
And, I’m thankful to be part of the TKZ Brain Trust- 🙂 -I learn every time I’m here.
Happy Giving Thanks Day to all!
It was a privilege to write Charlie’s story. I suspect there will be another anthology in the works, and if they ask me, I’ll participate.
My husband (a 2-year Navy veteran) and I attended the Forever Young Veterans meeting last week where they announced the book and had copies for sale. It was moving to be in a room full of military men and women, most of whom had seen combat.
My Facebook feed has had more than a few “x days of thankfulness” posts. As I look at my life over the past year or so, my list has gotten much shorter. I am thankful my children are healthy and happy. The oldest is now my close friend. We talk almost every day. I am thankful that ‘passed out on daddy’s chest’ is still their favorite spot.
I am thankful that it has been more than a year since COVID has taken anyone close to me. I will be very, very thankful and very happy to have that number forever stuck at 12.
I never miss the opportunity to thank the men of the H & I Companies, 10th Calvery for their service. I am here today because of their rescue of my great, great, grandfather’s unit in 1868. The 10th Calvery were the Buffalo Soldiers. African Americans who put on the uniform to fight for rights they did not enjoy. Thank you gentlemen for your service. The 10th Cav is still based in Colorado, not far from where they were 150 years ago. They have replaced their horses with tanks and were deployed in Afghanistan. A buffalo is still on their sleave.
Fascinating story about the 10th Cavalry, Alan. Thanks for sharing.
We owe so much to our veterans and current military and their stories should be shared. What a privilege to be the author of one.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
I have a long litany of things I could list that I am thankful for, but the first and foremost is life. Without that, there would be none of the others.
The gift of life! I am awestruck when I think about it. Thanks for reminding us all, Cecilia.
I’m thankful to my brother and sister-in-law for taking me in when life turned upside down.
Much to be grateful for when friends and family step in to help. I’m happy that yours did.
Wife. Family. Church. Computer. Kindle Direct Publishing. Ribeye.
Great list, Jim. Happy Thanksgiving.